Alcoa needs a safe, reliable method of receiving alumina to continue its operation in Wenatchee, WA, which employs 467 people and generates $52 million in local spending.
Alcoa, the world’s leading producer of primary aluminum and fabricated aluminum, has been creating jobs and operating facilities in Washington State for more than 60 years. The company imports alumina, a critical raw material in the manufacture of aluminum, by way of the Longview Terminal, which has been handling alumina since the 1960s. From there the material is transported by rail to Alcoa’s facility in Wenatchee, WA.
Why the Longview Port is Important to Alcoa Wenatchee Works
Continued operation of the Wenatchee facility is dependent on a safe, reliable method of receiving alumina through Longview. The terminal is the only location for off-loading alumina from ocean-going vessels that has direct rail connections. Since alumina is transported from Australia by ship, Longview is the best location for off-loading the material and then transporting it to Wenatchee.
To maintain a safe port for these ships, Alcoa’s subsidiary, Northwest Alloys, and the site operator, Millennium Bulk Terminals (MBTL), received a Joint Aquatic Reserve Permit from the United States Army Corps of Engineers to perform necessary maintenance work on the Longview Terminal. Work performed included safety and environmental repairs to the dock as well as maintenance dredging around it to remove shoaling (silt) that has naturally built up over time and was impeding the ability of ships to dock, increasing the risk of damage to ships and potential spills. The work performed made the dock safe for importing alumina and protect the environment from potential spills that could result from ship groundings.
Alcoa Wenatchee Works depends on a safe, reliable port for supply of alumina to the plant.
Alumina has been imported by ship through Longview since the 1960s. During this time, the Longview berth, like other berths on the Columbia River, has required routine maintenance dredging and repair to ensure safe operation.
Utilizing the port in Longview is the best thing for the environment. If ships can’t dock in Longview, alumina transport would have to be done via another port and then trucked to Wenatchee, significantly increasing costs and greenhouse gas emissions.
The Longview Berth uses a vacuum unloader for alumina that is more advanced and environmentally superior to bucket crane systems.
Alcoa will continue to ensure that the Longview dock is safe and in good repair, to protect the environment, safety of employees and the continued operation of Alcoa Wenatchee Works.
Coal will not be shipped across this dock
This has been an area of concern for some stakeholders so we want to be clear on this point: MBTL will not unload or move coal over the existing dock that is supplying Alcoa with its alumina
MBTL has committed to perform a full assessment, complete an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) and request permits for a new dock with the appropriate local, state and federal regulatory entities for their proposed coal operations. That process is completely unrelated to any safety and maintenance repairs at the Longview dock to ensure the continued supply of alumina to Alcoa's Wenatchee smelter.